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Friday, October 06, 2006

Mobile search 2...

Wow, I seem to have stirred up a hornet's nest yesterday, with my relatively off-the-cuff potshots at the mobile search sacred cow. Obviously hit a sore point.... in fact, coming back to my general belief that "consensus is always flawed", I'm wondering now whether there's scope for a full research report on the topic. I'll add it to the list of things to delve into more deeply.

In particular, I really don't think location is that much of an important "context" for most mobile searches. The main exception I can think of is for directions to a particular address, which could be better done with (non-assisted) GPS and an in-memory map. It is notable that most in-car navigation systems don't need to be "online" .

To be honest, I suspect the lure of search & context is less about empowering end-users, and more about generating mobile advertising revenues. The more I look at the consumer side of the mobile industry, the more I think that advertising is the only possible saviour of certain things, especially mobile TV.

Haha, I've just seen a web page suggesting that mobile search will be a $13bn market by 2011.

Hmm. I've got an idea.... I reckon if I can get $1bn of VC funding, I could establish a call centre in India with 10,000 multilingual employees equipped with maps, copies of worldwide Yellow Pages, access to Zagats, Time-Out & Lonely Planet guides... and access to the real Google via PCs with keyboards & 19' monitors. Then get a slightly premium-rate number (maybe 20c per minute?) and local VoIP gateways, and set up a true "speak to a real person" mobile search service.

I mean, for mobile search, the single most important piece of context information is this: You're holding a telephone.

5 comments:

Al. said...

I really have to agree. I don't think it even gets as far whether location is important or not, I'm not convinced the average consumer thinks mobile data is important. The reason that Google was so successful, and has made so much money off the back of searching, is that there was something for them to index in the first place. Right now, I'm not convinced that's the case for the mobile world, what's out there apart from endless ringtones and wallpaper?

bena roberts said...

HI Dean, I believe the website you saw might have been mine. Not sure if you remember - but we met at a surfKitchen event earlier in the year?
Anyway. I'm pleased that you are "laughing" at my stats as at least they are being noticed. Let me explain the context.
I believe that Mobile Search is accomodates - mobile advertising, mobile recommendation and social networking. My idea is that alone mobile search will be worth little but together it can be the oil that gels serach and drives the mobile Internet. Informa believe that mobile advertising will be worth 11 billion in 2011. If you look at it this way - way stats are conservative. Because mobile advertising is included in my analysis.
If you want to read The Mobile Search Analyst - let me know!
bena roberts

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